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How a College Summit Volunteer found his way back to PeerForward after 14 years


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PeerForward’s mission is only possible because of our volunteers. Every year, Writing Coaches and College Coaches dedicate their time and talents to uplifting the next generation of student leaders. For Jason Shen, even a 14 year hiatus couldn’t stop his dedication to positively impacting a new cohort of Peer Leaders. Today, we’re grateful to have our spotlight on our Writing Coach, Jason Shen.


Jason Chen with his Peer Leaders in 2009.

Jason Shen’s first experience as a Writing Coach was at a 2009 College Summit Workshop at UC Merced. He had just graduated college himself, and he saw volunteering with PeerForward as a unique opportunity to guide students as they began their own college journeys. Little did he know, this experience would have a profound impact on him, prompting him to write a blogpost about his time at the Workshop.

For over a decade after that, he was laser focused on his professional life. It wasn’t until 2023, when he underwent a career change that he found himself with a free summer before entering a new endeavor. That’s when he remembered his time with College Summit, now PeerForward, and how impactful that experience had been for both him and the students he worked with. After a quick search online, he found that the 2023 PeerForward Workshop season needed volunteers and he knew exactly what to do. After 14 years, Jason returned as a Writing Coach.

Jason Shen with his Peer Leaders in 2023.

His 2023 workshop was filled with positive energy and impact.

During his latest run as a Writing Coach, Jason shared: “I began volunteering for PeerForward at the start of my professional career. And 14 years later, I continue to find the work of opening doors for young leaders from low-income backgrounds to be incredibly fulfilling. Challenging these students to step up and tell their stories is a privilege I cherish always.” 

And we cherish you, Jason! Thank you for serving as a PeerForward Writing Coach.



Volunteers like Jason Shen are vital in helping Peer Leaders find their voice. With the help of Writing Coaches, underserved, first-generation students are learning that their stories matter!  We are currently accepting volunteer applications for the 2024 Workshop season. You can browse positions and apply here.


Writing Coach team 2023
2023 PeerForward Writing Coaches